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Workplace woes: Forget fulfilment, this is what Aussies want at work

A crowd of people walk on the street and a woman works from home on her laptop.
When it comes to work, Aussies would prefer money over happiness. (Source: Getty)

Feeling fulfilled at work is only the second-most-important thing to Aussies in the workplace.

More than one in two employees ranked salary as the most important thing in a job, as many continued to battle cost-of-living pressures.

New research, commissioned by workplace design consultancy Future X Collective, found that 63 per cent of Australians ranked salary as the most important factor in a workplace when considering a potential job, with one-third (39 per cent) ranking feeling fulfilled and having purpose second.

Coming in at the bottom of the list though were incentives, like getting birthdays off and team drinks.

Interestingly, the study found one in three (36 per cent) reported that the pandemic made them prioritise a greater work-life balance.

Meanwhile only 4 per cent of respondents said the pandemic made them want to dedicate more time to work and career progression.

Future X Collective co-founder Angela Ferguson said the pandemic triggered a reassessment of personal values for many Aussie workers.

“That’s why we witnessed herds of people quitting their jobs in 2021 in pursuit of a greater meaning,” Ferguson said.

“Rising costs in Australia continue to be a struggle for many employees; however, businesses nationwide must attempt to find a balance of salary, purpose and flexible working conditions to drive employee satisfaction and an elevated workplace culture.”

Ferguson said employers needed to open the conversation with their workers to find out what was more important to them.

Men prioritised salary more than women, with 40 per cent of men saying it was the most important compared to 35 per cent of women.

Furthermore, almost half of Gen Z and Millennials (45 per cent) ranked salary as the most important, while only 12 per cent of Boomers ranked it first.

Several respondents expressed that they were seeking more work-life balance, while others said the cost of living was far too high to not prioritise salary.

“Money cannot really buy time, and time is what I want when it comes to my family life,” said a 51-year-old office worker from Melbourne.

“Things are so tight and wages are so far behind all of these companies’ profits, that money always has to come first,” said a 33-year-old finance worker from Adelaide.

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